300 lb. loggerhead sea turtle hit, killed by car in Brevard County

Several agencies are looking into the death of a loggerhead sea turtle after it was found to have been hit and killed by a car on Wednesday morning.

Turtle tracks in the sand led to a gruesome scene on State Road A1A between Ivory Drive and Spoonbill Lane on July 10. Dried blood and a car part were left behind.

"It’s extremely upsetting. This was an adult female, probably near 300 pounds, and she was destroyed," said Joel Cohen. "To do that, the car had to have had serious damage as well."

Cohen is with The Sea Turtle Preservation Society. He said the loggerhead was hit after laying eggs on the beach.

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"We’re probably not going to know exactly what caused this death. We just know that the number one cause of misoriented turtles, or disoriented turtles, is artificial lighting," Cohen said.

Cohen said that right now, it is peak sea turtle nesting season, so they are extra active and at risk.

"This is almost identical to what happened to the turtle a mile south from here," Cohen said.

On July 2, another loggerhead was found. Cohen said she, too, was disoriented after laying eggs. Instead of heading back to the water, she wedged against someone’s garage door. Cohen and the Sea Turtle Preservation Society arrived in time to save her.


"We got her back in the ocean," Cohen said. "She lived; she was fine."

In June, a loggerhead was hit and killed on Anna Marie Island. Our sister station in Tampa reported the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) would be changing the lighting in that area after turtle experts believed lights on a nearby crosswalk were to blame for the turtle’s death.

Cohen said there is no proper "turtle-friendly" lighting, but bulbs in the red spectrum are slightly improved over white or yellow. 

"If a human can see the light, a turtle can see the light," Cohen said. "Red light is the first wavelength of light that is filtered out of the ocean when you go diving down, so turtles aren’t adapted to see that light as well, but they can still see it. It still could potentially lead to this."

According to Cohen, this incident is a sad reminder for locals and visitors staying at or near the beach to keep exterior lights off and draw blinds or curtains to shield interior light from flooding outdoors.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is investigating the loggerhead’s death. With two similar situations in one month (within one mile of one another), the Sea Turtle Preservation Society is actively conducting light assessments in the area.